The Dark Heresy system:
Dark Heresy Core Rulebook, pp232-233 "Fear"
...[snip]When an Acolyte is confronted by such a frightening event or adversary, they must take a Fear Test; this is a Willpower Test, modified by how frightening the thing is. If the Acolyte passes this Test then he may continue to act as normal. If he fails however, he succumbs to Fear.
Degrees of Fear
Some things are clearly more frightening than others for an Acolyte, having a gun waved in his face, although obviously dangerous, is not sufficient to call for a Fear Test. However, having a gun waved at him by the walking corpse of his dead brother, while luminous white spiders scurry in and out of his bloodless open wounds - that calls for a somewhat severe one. The Table 8-3: Fear Test Difficulties, offers some guidelines on the severity of Fear Tests.
Table 8-3: Fear Test Difficulties
|Severity of Fear||Test Mod||Example
|Fear (1) Disturbing||(0)||Nightwing, Revenant
Synofian Bore Worm
|Fear (2) Frightening||(-10)||Carnosaur,
|Fear (3) Horrifying||(-20)||Incarnate Daemon,
|Fear (4) Terrifying||(-30)||The King in Rags
Failing the Fear Test
If in a combat situation a character fails a Fear Test, he must immediately roll on Table 8-4: The Shock Table, adding a +10 to the result for each degree of failure. The effects listed are applied immediately to the character.
If in a non-combat situation the character fails the Fear Test, the character becomes unnerved and suffers a -10 penalty to any Skill or Test that requires concentration on his part. This penalty lasts while the character remains in the vicinity of the object of their Fear (simply leaving and coming back again doesn't stop this!).
In addition, if a non-combat Fear Test is failed by 30 or more, the character also gains +1d5 Insanity Points.
Shock and snapping out of it
Characters may be able to shake off some of the effects of Fear after the initial shock has worn off. Where specified on Table 8-4: The Shock Table that a character may "snap out of it", a character can make a Willpower Test when it is his next Turn. If this succeeds then he regains his senses, shrugs off the effects and may act normally from then on. If he fails this Test, the effect continues and he may try again when it is his next Turn.
|Table 8-4: The Shock Table||Roll a d100 and add 10 for every degree of failure.|
|01-20||The character is badly startled. He may only take a single Half Action when in his next Turn, but afterwards he may act normally.|
|21-40||Fear grips the character and he begins to shake and tremble. He is at a -10 penalty on all Tests for the rest of the encounter unless he can recover his wits (see Shock and Snapping out of it, page 232).|
|41-60||Reeling with shock, the character backs away from the thing that confronts them. The character cannot willingly approach the object of his fear, but may otherwise act normally, with a -10 penalty on all Tests until the end of the encounter. The character gains 1 Insanity Point.|
|61-80||The character is frozen by terror. The character may make no Actions until he snaps out of it. After snapping out of it, the character will make all Tests with a -10 penalty for the rest of the encounter. The character gains 1d5 Insanity Points.|
|81-100||Panic grips the character. He must flee the source of his fear, if able, as fast as he can, and if prevented from doing so, he may only take Half Actions and is at a -20 penalty to all Tests. The character gains 1d5 Insanity Points. Once away from the danger he must successfully snap out of it to regain control.|
|101-120||Fainting dead away, the character keels over and remains unconscious for 1d5 Rounds. Once he regains consciousness he is still shaken and takes all Tests with a -10 penalty until the end of the encounter. The character gains 1d5 Insanity Points.|
|121-130||Totally overcome, the character screams and vomits uncontrollably for 1d5 Rounds. During this time he is helpless, may do nothing and drops anything he is holding. Afterwards, until the end of the encounter, the character may only take a single Half Action each Turn until he can rest. The character gains 1d5 Insanity Points.|
|131-140||The character laughs hysterically and randomly attacks anything near him in a manic frenzy, firing wildlyor using whatever weapon he has to hand. This effect lasts until the character snaps out of it, or until he is knocked unconscious. The character gains 1d5 Insanity Points.|
|141-160||The character crumples to the ground for 1d5+1 Rounds sobbing, babbling and tearing at his own flesh, and may do nothing. Even after he returns to his senses, he is a complete mess and at a -20 penalty on all Tests until the end of the encounter. The character gains 1d5+1 Insanity Points.|
|161-170||The character's mind snaps and he becomes catatonic for 1d5 hours and may not be roused. The character gains 1d10 Insanity Points.|
|171+||The character is so affected that he begins to see strange and terrible visions as his hold on reality shatters. The character suffers the effects of "acute hallucinations"[snip] for 2d10 Rounds. After the hallucinations fade, the character will make all Tests with a -20 penalty while the encounter lasts. The character gains 2d10 Insanity Points and takes 1d10 points of permanity Willpower damage.|
Conversion: Though it would appear that this one will take a bit more conversion as it's not truly a morale system, but a fear system, the conversion only requires a few changes to the charts to make it fit a d20 system. I like this system on paper, because it represents how the "normal psyche" reacts to horrendous stimuli - a subject that I care enough about to post on here.
When a creature (including a PC) is confronted with a frightening event or or adversary, they must take a Morale Save; this is a Will Save, with a DC set by how frightening the thing is. If the PC successfully saves then he may continue to act as normal. If he fails however, he succumbs to Fear.
Degrees of Fear
Some things are clearly more frightening than others for a creature, having a wand waved in his face, although obviously dangerous, is not sufficient to call for a Fear Save. However, having a wand waved at him by the walking corpse of his dead brother, while luminous white spiders scurry in and out of his bloodless open wounds - that calls for a somewhat severe one.
The Table 8-3: Fear Save DCs, offers some guidelines on the severity of Fear Saves, but good judgement by the GM is key in using this chart properly.
Table 8-3: Fear Save DCs
Outnumbered 2:1 by humanoids,
Ally cut down in one blow
Golems or other humanoid-shaped construct,
Large or larger Aberrations
|(25)||Demons, Devils, or Daemons,
Immensely powerful Undead (vampires, liches),
Clones of person, creatures that can control your actions
|(30)||Unique fiends or Undead,
Failing the Fear Save
If in a combat situation a character fails a Fear Save, he must immediately check on Table 8-4: The Shock Table, rolling a d20 and adding +2 to the result for each margin of 5 by which he failed the save. The effects listed are applied immediately to the character.
If in a non-combat situation the character fails the Fear Save, the character gains the Shaken condition and suffers a -2 penalty to all Skill Checks, Saving Throws, Attack Rolls, and Ability Checks. This penalty lasts while the character remains in the vicinity of the object of their Fear (simply leaving and coming back again doesn't stop this!).
Shock and snapping out of it
Characters may be able to shake off some of the effects of Fear after the initial shock has worn off. Where specified on Table 8-4: The Shock Table that a character may "snap out of it", a character can make a Will Save (DC equal to the original save) when it is his next turn. If this succeeds then he regains his senses, shrugs off the effects and may act normally from then on. If he fails this save, the effect continues and he may continue to try again on subsequent turns.
|Table 8-4: The Shock Table||Roll a d100 and add 10 for every degree of failure.|
|1-4||The character is badly startled. He may only take a single Half Action when in his next Turn, but afterwards he may act normally.|
|5-8||Fear grips the character and he begins to shake and tremble. He is at a -2 penalty on all rolls for the rest of the encounter unless he can recover his wits (see Shock and Snapping out of it, page 232).|
|9-12||Reeling with shock, the character backs away from the thing that confronts them. The character cannot willingly approach the object of his fear, but may otherwise act normally, with a -2 penalty on all rolls until the end of the encounter. The character gains 1 Insanity Point.|
|13-16||The character is frozen by terror. The character may make no Actions until he snaps out of it. After snapping out of it, the character will make all rolls with a -2 penalty for the rest of the encounter. The character gains 1d5 Insanity Points.|
|17-20||Panic grips the character. He must flee the source of his fear, if able, as fast as he can, and if prevented from doing so, he may only take Half Actions and is at a -4 penalty to all rolls. The character gains 1d5 Insanity Points. Once away from the danger he must successfully snap out of it to regain control.|
|21-22||Fainting dead away, the character keels over and remains unconscious for 1d6 Rounds. Once he regains consciousness he is still shaken and makes all rolls with a -2 penalty until the end of the encounter. The character gains 1d5 Insanity Points.|
|23-24||Totally overcome, the character screams and vomits uncontrollably for 1d6 Rounds. During this time he is helpless, may do nothing and drops anything he is holding. Afterwards, until the end of the encounter, the character may only take a single Half Action each round until he can rest. The character gains 1d5 Insanity Points.|
|25-26||The character laughs hysterically and randomly attacks anything near him in a manic frenzy, firing wildly or using whatever weapon he has to hand. This effect lasts until the character snaps out of it, or until he is knocked unconscious. The character gains 1d5 Insanity Points.|
|27-28||The character crumples to the ground for 1d6+1 Rounds sobbing, babbling and tearing at his own flesh, and may do nothing. Even after he returns to his senses, he is a complete mess and at a -4 penalty on all rolls until the end of the encounter. The character gains 1d5+1 Insanity Points.|
|29-30||The character's mind snaps and he becomes catatonic for 1d6 hours and may not be roused. The character gains 1d10 Insanity Points.|
|Result of 1||The character is so affected that he begins to see strange and terrible visions as his hold on reality shatters. The character suffers the effects of "acute hallucinations"[snip] for 2d10 Rounds. After the hallucinations fade, the character will make all rolls with a -4 penalty while the encounter lasts. The character gains 2d10 Insanity Points and takes d2 points of Wisdom drain.|
Pros: This system is quick. Just a quick glance at a couple of charts and a couple of quick die rolls to resolve the mechanics. The system also gives a way to break the hold of the mental snap, making characters feel more heroic and giving players more overall control (a trend that has become more prevalent, but which I don't care for too much).
Cons: The system is fairly harsh. Almost every result ends up in multiple rounds of dice penalties or can otherwise take a character out of the action. This also still reads a bit too much like a fear mechanic than a morale one, and might skew belief a bit too much in regards to bravery in battle.
The Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 system:
Heroes of Battle supplement, pp72-75 "The Morale Check"
[snip]A creature who begins to succumb to fear progresses down a slippery slope. First he becomes shaken [snip], then so afraid that he runs from the battle. In extreme cases a creature might completely snap under the pressure, becoming a danger not only to himself but to his comrades. Only a charismatic leader can bring such a creature back into the fray.
Morale is a creature's defense against fear. This fact is simulated by the morale check, which is simplay a term describing a DC 20 Will save against a fear effect. Any modifiers applying to Will saves (or against fear-based effecs) function normally. Additional bonuses or penalties on the morale check are assessed based upon the conditions of battle, as listed below.
When to Use the Morale Check
...[snip]... When the action focuses on the PCs battling small groups of enemies (which should be almost always), morale checks aren't usually necessary. However, if you're describing the action on another part of the battlefield--or if high-level PCs confront a big group of low-level enemies--the morale check allows you to simulate the swinging fortunes of battle quickly and effectively.
Because the PCs are the protagonists and the focus of the game, they don't ordinarily make morale checks. The decision to retreat and fight another day is or the players to make and shouldn't be forced by a die roll (unless everyone has agreed to use this rule; see the sidebar on page 75). However, their NPC allies must make morale checks just as the enemy does.
Variant: PC Morale Checks (page 75 sidebar)
One of the fundamental concepts of the Dungeons & Dragons game is that player characters are heroes. While they might be subject to a number of fear-based effects, requiring PCs to make morale checks takes away some of the control and decision-making inherent in being a player.
On the other hand, dealing with the fear prevalent on the battlefield might add a sense of realism to your campaign. In any case, PCs have access to a number of spells, feats, classes, and items that can mitigate or even eliminate fear-based effects. Paladins of 3rd level or higher, for example, can't fail a morale save because they're immune to fear.
If your players are amenable and enjoy pretending to be scared on occaion, you can extend the morale rules to cover PCs as well. Thus, any time a PC's hit points fall to 50% or less of his full normal total, that character must attempt a morale check, as described above. In addition, if the PC's unit--that is, the player characters plus cohorts plus other significant allies such as animal companions but nor including followers or other low-level NPCs--takes 50% casualties, each PC must attempt a morale check.
As with any variant rule, you must make sure that everyone at the table agrees before implementing the rule. All players should be familiar with the morale rules (particularly including the rules for making rally checks) before this variant is used.
Morale in the Dungeon
You can also take these rules beyond the battlefield if you wish, using them in dungeon-based adventures, urban settings, or elsewhere. In most cases, using the morale rules means that monsters run away more often than they do in a typical D&D adventure. That situation is common in organized warfare, but rare in a dungeon because the monsters are found in their lair and have nowhere else to go. In contrast, a smart commander encourages his units to retreat (or at least make a strategic withdrawal), when they're overmatched or needed elsewhere. If you use these morale rules in a traditional D&D adventure, make sure you account for the greater likelihood of NPCs retreating.
Making Morale Checks
Typically, a creature must attempt a morale check on the first round that one of the following conditions applies:
Creature Takes 50% Damage: Once a creature's hit point total falls to 50% or less of its full normal hit points, that creature must make a morale check.
Unit takes 50% Casualties: Creatures make a morale check if half or more of the comrades in their unit are unable to fight, whether they're dead, unconscious, fleeing, paralyzed, or otherwise out of commission.
If a creature is required to attempt a morale check, it makes the check at the start of its turn, before it takes any other action. Depending on the situation, certain modifiers might apply tot he check. (For the purpose of these modifiers, "nearby" is defined as in sight and within 120 feet.)
Table 4-3: Morale Check Modifiers
|Unit (including nearby allies) is outnumbered 4:1||-5|
|Unit (including nearby allies) is outnumbered 2:1||-2|
|Unit outnumbers nearby enemies 2:1||+2|
|Unit outnumbers nearby enemies 4:1||+5|
Group Morale Checks
In cases when you need to know whether a large group of creatures stays or runs, a single morale check can often take the place of individual checks for each member of the unit, with the result applying equally to all creatures in the unit. This saves a lot of time and effort on the DM's part.
For the purpose of making a group morale check, the unit's Will save modifier is the average of the individual Will save modifiers of each soldier. If the group consists of essentially identical creatures, this value is the same as any single creature's Will save modifier. In groups of differing creatures, add together the Will save modifiers for all creatures in the group and divide the result by the number of creatures in the group. If you anticipate using this short cut, you should figure out this value before the gaming session begins, to save time at the table.
Morale Check Effects
If the morale check succeeds, the creature can act normally. Each time a creature (or unit) fails a morale check, the morale condition of that creature (or the creatures of that unit) worsens by one category. Morale conditions are described in the accompanying sidebar.
If a creature fails a morale check by 10 or more, the morale condition worsens by two categories. For example, a heartened soldier who fails a morale check by 10 is reduced from heartened to shaken.
Panicked is usually the worst morale condition; panicked creatures can't get any worse. However, strange things can happen on the battlefield when a soldier snaps. If a creature rolls a natural 1 on a morale check that would make it panicked, it becomes crazed instead.
The following morale conditions are organized from highest morale to lowest morale, with the special morale condition of "crazed" listed at the bottom. Unless otherwise noted, all conditions last for the duration of the battle or until the character's morale condition changes as the result of another morale check or a rally check.
Heartened: A heartened character has been encouraged and is confident of victory. Heartened characters gain a +1 morale bonus on Will saves against fear effects (including morale checks).
Normal: The typical state of a combatant at the beginning of battle.
Shaken: A shaken character takes a -2 penalty on attack rolls, saving throws (including subsequent morale checks), skill checks, and ability checks [snip]. This condition lasts for 10 minutes after the battle ends.
Frightened: As shaken, but a frightened character must try to flee as best it can. If unable to flee, it will fight [snip]. A creature who becomes frightened due to a failed morale check improves to shaken 10 minutes after the battle ends (or 10 minutes after it has fled the battlefield) and returns to normal 10 minutes after that.
Panicked: As frightened, but a panicked creature drops everything and runs at top speed away from danger [snip]. If cornered, a panicked creature cowers and does not attack. A panicked creature does not need to make additional morale checks. A creature that becomes panicked due to a failed morale check improves to frightened 10 minutes after the battle ends (or 10 minutes after it has fled the battlefield), becomes shaken 10 minutes after that, and returns to normal 10 minutes after that.
Crazed: If a creature rolls a 1 on a save that would make him panicked, he assumes on of the following conditions, determined randomly, instead of becoming panicked. This condition overrides the effects of the character's normal morale condition. It remains for the duration of the battle plus one hour, or until the creature's morale improves to shaken (or better). If a crazed creature's condition is removed through some other effect, treat the creature as panicked. Crazed creatures count as panicked for the prupose of rally check DCs.
|01-20||Berzerk: the character makes a melee or ranged attack against the nearest living creature, or closes with that creature if he cannot attack (if two or more creatures are equidistant, choose the target randomly).|
|21-40||Cowering: frozen in fear, takes no actions, -2 penalty to AC, loses Dex bonus.|
|41-60||Dazed: takes no actions.|
|61-80||Deafened: cannot hear, -4 initiative, no Listen checks, 20% spell failure on spells with verbal components.|
|81-100||Nauseated: unable to attack, cast spells, concentrate, or take any action other than a single move action.|
The Rally Check
Once the morale begins to degrade, the best course of action is for a charismatic character to rally the troops with a few stirring words. This is accomplished by making a rally check, which requires a move action by any creature that currently has a morale condition of normal or better.
To make a rally check, a character rolld 1d20 and adds her Charisma modifier and her commander rating, if any (see page 75). A single check allows a character to try to rally any comrades within line of sight and earshot [snip]. This is a language-dependent effect.
A creature can be subject to only one rally check attempt per round (measured from the beginning of that creature's turn to the beginning of the creature's next turn). Unsuccessful rally attempts make that target more difficult to rally (see Rally Check Modifiers, below).
Use Table 4-4 to determine the effectiveness of a rally attempt. The numbers in the table indicate the rally check result required to achieve the new morale condition. In some situations, modifiers might apply to the rally check.
For example, troops that are panicked can be made frightened with a successful DC 20 rally check. Those same troops can then be made heartened in a later round with a DC 30 rally check.
Table 4-4: Rally Attempts
|Initial Morale||New Morale Condition (DC to achieve)|
Rally Check Modifiers
|At least one failed rally check within last minute||-2|
|Rallying character is at half hit point or below||-2|
|Enemy troops within light of sight are fleeing||+2|
|Rallying character has 5 or more ranks in Diplomacy or Intimidate||+2|
|No enemies within line of sight||+5|
Rallying Against Other Fear Effects: Characters can make rally checks to rally creatures that are shaken, frightened, or panicked due to effects such as a dragon's frightful presence or spells such as fear. Because the morale effect has a magical origin, it's much more persistent than garden-variety fear of dying on the battlefield. Rally attempts against magical fear only last for 1 round (measured from the beginning of the shaken, frightened, or panicked character's turn), so the leader must repeat the rally check every round to keep nearby comrades in the battle.
The Prebattle Rally Check: Before the battle begins, the leader of a military unit can make a rally check to improve the troops' morale condition. This is similar to a normal rally check but takes at least 1 minute to deliver. [snip]
This rally check affects everyone who can see and hear the leader. It cannot be retried, either by that leader or another character. In other words, a leader only gets one chance to inspire the troops with a speech. That's why armies with charismatic generals try to get as many soldiers as possible to listen to a single speech.
[snip]...Characters can't take 10 on this check.
Conversion: None. Pathfinder is completely derivitive of 3.x, and this system would fit in without conversion. The system itself tells you what to use and not use to suit your campaign.
Pros: This system uses the same game mechanics I've been playing. That makes it fit without any work on my part. Also, I like that it presents a variant for PC morale right in the text. Some players are weird about wanting to see the precedent for affecting their characters with anything.
Cons: It's simple, which is a 'Pro' I mentioned, yes, but my group sometimes likes fiddly rules. Maybe this could be mitigated by adding more modifiers.
This system is fast and loose, using many of the triggers of systems that have been spoken of before, such as 50% hit points, 50% casualties, or defeat of leader. In fact, the DM can use any trigger they wish in this system, but to resolve this check, a d20 is rolled with the target of rolling under the character's Wisdom score, applying any modifiers the DM deems necessary.
The results of this check are, as before, whatever the DM feels fits the situation. Some might throw themselves recklessly into battle (say if they roll a 20), flee, or even become unbreakable (if they roll a 1).
And...that's it. I'll not rehash all the modifiers used in other systems I've wrote about in this series, but things should run smoothly.
Conversion: None. I made this one up.
Pros: It's easy, and give the DM complete control over when and how it's used, instead of being confined by printed rules. Nostalgia over 'roll within' saves.
Cons: It's too easy, and has no concise rules. It's loose enough that it might be easily forgotten and then abandoned completely. It's disjointed mechanically from everything else.
There we are, and honestly I'm still unsure where I would like to be with it all. The AD&D 2nd Edition version speaks the most to me thematically, but mechanically it seems to make more sense to build off of or adopt the 3.x Heroes of Battle model, as the Pathfinder system is entirely derivative of the 3.x mechanics.
As I mentioned, since I started writing this series, I've put my Wilderlands on hiatus, and I use the given morale published in the Pathfinder Adventure Paths. This only means, however, that I have more time to think about the system I will end up using, as I no doubt will return to the Wilderlands at some point.